Final Project: Albany 8th Militia

Visualization #1
My first visualization looks at the relationship between the Albany 8th County Militia, their place of birth, their age and the “complexion” that each man is marked as. The use of complexion in this graph is not to examine any person in the militia based off of looks or bias, but rather to understand better the racial identity of the men in the militia. The graph itself is a stacked bar graph that’s a mix of textual and visual data. In order to fit all these categories into one graph, I not only had to use both of these types of data, but I also required the graph to be broken down into sections. Initially the graph separates the men from each place of origin. Origins other than the United States are specifically labelled by their country. In comparison births in the United States are broken down into states in which they were born. This is further broken down if the birth was in New York, due to the majority of births in the United states being in New York. The New York births are divided into county or area, since the counties of New York have changed considerably since the American Revolution. From within the category of the location of birth, the graph is further broken down by complexion. These categories are divided by broad skin based or racial complexions. Indians, blacks and mulattos are labelled by race while the rest merely state generally skin tone. Also, e more than unlikely to make more than an educated guess exactly where he came from. Which is a shame, such an interesting addIn the case of dark and brown, it’s to point out hair color, not skin tone. It’s from this category that the bars on the graph are representative of, visually showing the number of men of each complexion. These bars break down into the last category of age. They are broken into color coded sections, each representative of an age range. These ranges are each roughly ten years, except for teens, as one had to be 16 to join a militia. A filter to the right edge of the graph allows the viewer of the graph to see specifically whatever specific category they want in terms of age and complexion.

Data Visualization
My story of the men of the 8th Albany Militia in this graph reveals some data that I wasn’t expecting. In the country of origin section I think we see the most interesting piece of the story. That being that a majority of the men fighting were not born in America, but rather Ireland, Germany and England. Three countries, that in one way or another, the patriots fought in the revolution. Although the Germans fighting on the British side were mostly from Hanover and the Irish were more utilized by the British rather than willingly fought us. Still it’s fascinating to see that the men fighting for the patriots were from the same places that they fought against. These men were generally not blue blooded American born patriots but recent immigrants. I cant vouch for there motives in fighting but I cant say its for freedom from tyranny.
The complexion section tells a different but equally interesting story. While many men were from these North-Western European countries, those men were generally same in their complexion. Essentially they were mostly fair and pale, brown and dark(again in this case meaning hair color, not skin tone). What I find more interesting is that when we look at American locations of birth, we now see the diversity. Indians, blacks and mulattos pepper the categories. While not in high numbers, the presence of minorities shows two things. One the willingness of minorities to fight and die for the patriot cause, and two the beginnings of the boiling pot culture America is known for. Even so early in America’s history, this country shows its blending of peoples together for a single vision.
The age category shows a trend that while not too shocking, is interesting. A majority of the men who are in the militia are young, with twenties being the highest age range. Also surprising is that teenagers are the third highest age range, surpassing forties and fifties. These two points of information may say something about the willingness of young people to fight for a cause they believe, but probably just points to the greater numbers of young people that are able to actually fight.
Finally there are a few interesting points on the graph that are much more difficult to answer. First off, there is only one lone black soldier that stated his origin of birth as being in Europe, and that’s in Germany. It most definitely is different than our image of people who where born in Germany, especially in 1762, when there were much fewer opportunities for cultures to intertwine. Second there is one lone soldier, also black, in his twenties, who comes from Guinea. Modern day Guinea, located in West Africa, was not even an official colony until 1891. So I cannot say he was from there but I can only guess he was from the area, somewhere in West Africa. This most likely means he came to America as slave in the slave trade, which brings into question how and why a slave from West Africa became a freedman so quickly and then decided to fight in the American Revolution. Then there is one more lone man, this time an Indian, with his point of birth being written down as Portugal. It is unlikely to say the least, that an Indian would have been born in Portugal, so I can only guess that when they say Portugal on the muster roll, they really mean Brazil. For Brazil is the location of Portugal’s sole major colony in the Americas and would be the only place an indian in Portugal could likely be from. I can’t be certain but it would be a surprise if it was something else.

I chose these three major categories of age, complexion and place of birth because as I said earlier, I wanted to show a broad picture of the men who were fighting for the patriot cause. While one city’s data can’t speak for a whole nation, I think it can at least show some interesting views of Albany’s Revolutionary history. It’s also a good starting point for further research on the war. I felt that based on the information given on the muster role, that these three categories not only best showed that picture of Albany’s fighting men, but could also all work together on one graph. My original plan was to use a map to show visually the locations of the company’s births, but I ran into some problems. Mainly that the geo-dimensions in Tableau made you pick either county/region, state/province or country. With my data including all three of those and feeling that none of them could or should be compromised for the sake of a map, I scraped that idea and tested the other visualizations. None of the other visualizations I felt could fit all this information I wanted to put in very clearly, so I chose the stacked bar graph. For all three categories I had to group together certain similar categories to make the graph actually readable. Location of birth was the hardest one to create groups for since there were so many different locations and I had to combine so many of them together just to make the graph a relatively readable length. There were a number of specific locations I wanted to include but I couldn’t because there were still too many locations. The graph would not have been easily understandable. Plus sometimes there were limits to how specific I could be. Most notably, many men were listed as being born in “New England,” which since I couldn’t accurately know where that was specifically, I had to leave it as New England. It also meant that I couldn’t include specific New England colonies as locations, such as Connecticut and Rhode Island, since it would probably be too confusing to have both New England and specific locations in New England. While easier than the numerous locations of birth, for complexion I had to group similar tones or hair colors. For age, I decided to divide it into ten year intervals. From there I decided that since the locations were the most numerous category, that it should be the first to be divided. This allowed the less dividing complexion and age to both share the bars on the bar graph. With age having the fewest possibilities I decided to divide each bar by age to make it easily readable. Choosing the colors for the age divisions, I decided to make each division one color interval separate from the last. That way it would be easy to know what age range your looking at. The older you were going, the closer to green (and then finally yellow) from blue you were going.

The story or point of this graph was to show the general story of the men of the 8th Albany Militia. Specifically to answer who were these people who decided to answer the patriot call to arms for their ideas of freedom and rule. My biggest hope was to find data showing a dissenting idea of the Revolution. Since from what I’ve read on the Revolution I know it was not the grand, united, nationalist, patriotic fight against tyranny that we are generally lead to believe. Or better put by E. Wayne Carp of Pacific Lutheran University, “In this nationalist version of history, a united, freedom-loving people rose up in righteous anger at the King’s tyrannical actions, grabbed their trusty flintlocks, hid behind trees and walls, defeated the dull British soldiers who were sitting ducks in their scarlet uniforms, and established the United States of America.” Instead the ideas and acts of the Revolution were widely contested across the Colonies and estimations hold that as high as 20 percent of Americans joined the Loyalist cause. Combined with Native American tribes that were pulled in and forced to pick a side, a certain civil war over the question of how the colonies should be run and who will run it was created. Contemporary historians of the Revolution, such as David Ramsay and Mercy Otis Warren, even agree with that sentiment, declaring the Revolution “Originally a Civil War in the estimation of both parties.” This sentiment has only grown in recent times and the view of the Revolution as America’s first Civil War is widely debated among historians. Continually increasing numbers of modern historians, such as Alan Taylor agree the the Revolution was America’s first civil war. Writers like Thomas B Allen write about the extensive and underestimated Tory contributions to the British Cause. Others like Richard Berth tell the stories of the frontier, where communities and families amongst whites and Indians were broken up to decide the answer. Some historians, such as Thad Tate and Peter Albert, argue that during the war, some places devolved into violent anarchy reminiscent of what Thomas Hobbs wrote about. It’s a hard question to answer, if it can be accurately described as a Civil War, with the idea of what a Civil War is changing since the time of the Revolution. Either side you chose, generally it was about normal people, many with little to no opinion on the matter, caught in the ideas and fights of who could run this land better. This visualization I believe goes a long way in showing a story of the men who fought in the Revolution. It’s not quite the initial image of Civil War I was intending to portray, as it rather depicts England’s own people fighting against them. Still it makes a certain amount sense. With America and England extensively linked at this point, one could imagine that if Americans’ were fighting each other over who could rule it best, then England and its holdings would be fighting each other over the same idea. Also this only shows the patriot side, not telling us how many citizens of Albany disagreed and fought against the Patriot cause. With so many of Albany’s fighters being from these european countries, its not hard to imagine that others born in England or Ireland may have joined the other side.

Further Research Questions
There are a number of further questions I would ask after examining the graph. First there are the several outlying pieces of data that I described earlier. Where was the Indian from Portugal really from? Same goes for the Black soldier from Guinea? and why was there one (or only one) black soldier born in Germany? I think two of these questions are fairly easy to answer. Looking back at maps or writings of the area at the time, one could find out what place or area was called Guinea at or around the time of the Revolution. One could also look into Germany’s history in the slave trade and in Africa to see the prevalence of slaves or black workers in Germany in order to see how common black immigrants from Germany really were. As for the Portuguese Indian, I feel it’ll be harder to find out where exactly he came from. Unless they referred to Brazil as Portugal at the time or there is specific writings about that man, it’ll bition to the Militia and his story I can only guess is fascinating. Beyond that It would be great to look into the number of Loyalists that came from Albany to compare to the Patriot Militia. It would be tough to find this out, but possible. One would have to look into various loyalist companies in New York and possibly beyond. Also one would have to look into writings in Albany to see who left and who was suspected or known to be a loyalist to find those who fought with the British but didn’t join a loyalist company. Finally I would like to know how similar the place of birth was for other cities and militias in comparison to Albany’s. Were most Patriot militia’s made up of manly immigrants, or was Albany’s an outlier? It’s easy enough to say you would look in to the other muster roles to check this data, but I don’t know for certain if other muster roles would contain the same information as Albany’s.

Works Cited

Allen, Thomas B. Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War. New York: Harper, 2010.

“Guinea Country Profile.” BBC News. December 15, 2015. Accessed May 2016.

Berleth, Richard J. Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War & American Revolution on New York’s Frontier. Hensonville, NY: Black Dome Press, 2009.

Carp, E. Wayne. “The Wars of the American Revolution.” Am Rev Essays–Carp. Accessed May 2016.

Cutter Ham, Tom. “Was the American Revolution a Civil War?” The Junto. 2014. Accessed May 2016.

Minty, Christopher. “Seriously, Though, Was the American Revolution a Civil War?” The Junto. 2015. Accessed May 2016.

Visualization #2
The second visual I created based around the Albany 8th Militia centers around the occupations of the men of the militia and relating it back to their age. The graph itself is a highlighted table graph, and is largely textual and numeric, with added visual elements to help display all the information present. The vertical axis of the graph presents the relative ages of the men of the company. Much like the first visual, the ages are grouped together by decades. The horizontal axis presents the relative occupations that were listed on the muster role. Some occupations that are similar in nature have been grouped together. In each table in-between these axis are numbers designating how many within an age group were listed as a certain occupation. To better show those numbers in a way that’s more visual and immediately understandable, the tables are also color coded. Each table on the graph is shaded in a hue of green depending on how many people in an age group perform a certain occupation. The more people that perform that occupation, the more green the table is shaded. The color scale is from 0 to 222, with that being the highest number in the graph. At 0 the table will have no green and be almost tan in color, while at 222 the table is a solid olive green. This is so the viewer can have a generally idea of which occupations or age groups (or both) were higher without having to read the number of each table.

Data Visualization
This graph isn’t initially groundbreaking in its revealing of the story of the city of Albany through the lives of the Albany 8th Militia, but none the less it presents some interesting points of data. First of all, by and large the biggest occupation amongst the men of the Albany 8th Militia is laborer. Not only do we see the highest single table on the graph at 222 for laborers in their twenties, but at each age group laborers are the highest by a wide margin. On one level that’s not too unexpected, most people can’t be specialized labor and there must be people to do the hard manual labor. On the other hand this may say something about the growth of Albany. Such a large amount of laborers would only be necessary if there was enough work in the city for that many laborers to be needed. Combined with such a small amount of men in other occupations, with further research it could be argued that this is showing signs of growth in the city of Albany. The high number of laborers would then be indicative of doing the immense amount of manual labor required to expand a city.
Also particularly fascinating about the graph are the types of occupations some of the men of the militia performed. For specialized work, it’s largely delegated to the making of clothes and materials. Following up laborers in number of men are wood workers, cordwainers(shoemakers) and tailors. These jobs make sense, as the people of Albany would have needed these commodities before the days of manufactured goods. Today though, technology and corporations have made these goods sought by the citizens of Albany easily available, making these jobs much less necessary. While these occupations do exist in cities to this day, they are by no means high employing jobs.
A number of jobs show how far removed from the days of the American Revolution the city of Albany and the World have become, since these jobs have long since become obsolete. Specifically the job of apothecary, which could only exist in a world were modern medicine and science have yet to accurately cure diseases and ailments. Also that of a hatter, which of the time meant making top hats from beaver pelts. This not only is extinct due to the decline in top hat sales, but also due to the health and mental effects making the hats gave to the hatter(“mad as a hatter”).
Other jobs, while they exist today, would be uncommon to find in any major urban area due to the proximity of the jobs to a city. Specifically farmers, which while there are not a lot in the militia, is enough to make it an obvious way of living in 18th century Albany. Today the immense size of cities as well as suburban sprawl would make the job of a farmer near impossible in a city. Also the job of a miner, as there are two in this militia. It’s not known what they mine for but any place that could’ve been mined in Albany would have long since been built over to make way for city expansion. Finally there are a rather high number of sailors among the militia. While Albany indeed was built on the Hudson River for the advantages of traveling up and down the river, river traffic on the Hudson has long since been relegated to recreational boating. Technologies like planes and cars, and the development of highways has made the occupation of sailor obsolete in Albany at least.
Lastly of note are the 10 men with a null occupation. Im not sure if this means they didn’t want to put down their occupation for some reason, or that they had no job to put down. It would be interesting if there were 10 unemployed or even homeless men signing up for the militia.

When making this visual, I wanted to make sure I didn’t repeat my first one and create a bar graph. After exploring the various other graph and visual options, the highlighted table graph seemed to work the best. Not only is it a visually unique graph, in comparison to the graphs that I’m familiar with, but I particularly enjoyed the gradient shading of the individual tables. It made it a more visually appealing graph while presenting the information I wanted in way that made it quickly understandable. You didn’t have to specifically read the numbers presented, the green shaded tables immediately show you what was common and what wasn’t.
The hardest part of making this visual was condensing the immense number of jobs so that the graph could actually be readable. There were so many occupations listed that keeping all of them would’ve taken a viewer far too long to take in all the information. Deciding which jobs to group together was tough, as deciding which jobs were technically close enough to be the same category was a decision I didn’t feel qualified to make. I chose to include a couple “and this” labels in the categories because I felt the occupations were unique enough to be included. Each grouping I made weakened the overall view of Albany so I wanted to keep as much unique information in the graph that I could while still being visually readable. There was at least one occupation that for the life of me I couldn’t find anything about. I’m not sure if they spelled it wrong or if I didn’t look in the right places, but I have no clue what a “bellis maker” is, so I was forced to include it in the null category. Fortunately it was only one job so it didn’t askew my story too much.

I had expected the data to present a very different image of Albany than it ended up presenting. Albany had initially been established by the Dutch as a trading post, and while that was in 1621, the city had long after been a place that attracted fur traders and other merchants. On the edge of the frontier, even as the Revolution arrived, the thought was that the men of the militia would represent this image of a wilderness trading hub. It was much to my surprise when only one merchant was on the muster roll. Now its very true that this does not give a definitive look at the occupations of the people of Albany. It may be that the merchants did not sign up for the militia, perhaps in fear of losing goods or money. At the same time though, its a rather large sample size of Albany’s men, one would expect at least a few would enlist. After some quick research to show if this trend was in fact true, one source claimed that the fur trade did decline around this time in Albany, but wood and grain were then traded in Albany. While that would make it still expected for merchants to be present, the trading in lumber would go a long way in explaining the larger number of woodworkers in the city. Woodworkers did make up the second highest category, so perhaps these men were engaging in trading as Albany shifted its source of wealth.
As for the incredibly large numbers of laborers, I had earlier guessed that based on supply and demand, they were needed for jobs required to keep up and create an rapidly expanding city. It could also be that low income laborers merely made up the militia since they had the least to lose by going to war. When looking at the history of Albany though, the idea of an expanding Albany seems less farfetched. The end of the French and Indian War in 1763(1761 for North America) brought peace to the frontier and allowed Albany to grow without fear of raids. George Baker Anderson’s Landmarks of Rensselaer County, New York, claims that after Burgoyne’s failed invasion of Albany, the loss of a serious threat brought in a large influx of settlers from New England.The growth became so great that by 1786, Albany was the 6th largest city in America. Albany’s safety on the frontier brought it growth in the Revolution and it’s more than likely the same occurred after the French and Indian War. So it seems more than possible that the exorbitant numbers of laborers are in Albany to meet the influx of settlers to Albany and the growth to the city that such an influx entails. If that’s not the real reason for such numbers of laborers, it most likely became the reason, as such an expansion to a city could not be accomplished without a strong labor force. It may even be that the militia shows inadvertently the city of Albany on the precipice of its emergence as an important urban center that would in time be large enough to become New York’s Capital.

Further Research Questions
There are a number of small questions about the data that I think would require further research to answer. I personally would like to know what a “bellis maker” is, and I guess it could be done by looking into records of Albany to see if such an occupation existed. Or perhaps by doing better searches online to see if anyone actually knows that answer. Also I would like to know what the nulls in occupation mean. Do they really mean that they’re unemployed or is there another reason behind it. That could be answered by one looking at other Albany censuses or records to see if they tell what these men did. Finally I would like to see if there were more merchants in Albany than the muster rolls shows, and if their were, why they didn’t join the militia. Again you’d have to look into Albany censuses or Albany records to see if they have other merchants in the city. As for why they didn’t join the militia, save for a personal journal from a merchant or from another Albany resident that explains why, it would unfortunately be very difficult, maybe impossible to find the answer to that question.

Works Cited

Anderson, George Baker. Landmarks of Rensselaer County, New York. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason &, 1897.

“The Meaning and Origin of the Expression: As Mad as a Hatter.” As Mad as a Hatter. Accessed May 2016.

“The Official Site of the City of Albany, NY.” City History. Accessed May 2016.

Olpalka, Anthony. “Albany: One of America’s First Cities.” One of America’s First Cities: Colonial Albany – Oldest US Museums. Accessed May 2016.

“History of Albany New York.” Wikipedia. Accessed May 2016.,_New_York#cite_note-mceneny56-34.